TechGermany withholds Taurus missiles from Ukraine, cites risk of war escalation

Germany withholds Taurus missiles from Ukraine, cites risk of war escalation

Taurus KEPD 350 missile
Taurus KEPD 350 missile
Images source: © MBDA | bernhard huber munich

7:16 AM EDT, March 14, 2024

Ukraine has stressed the necessity of long-range weaponry in effectively countering Russian aggression. While they have received missiles of similar capability from the United Kingdom and France, the topic has been a point of contention among German politicians for some time, with the majority standing against the transfer of Taurus missiles to Ukraine. Chancellor Scholz has now firmly aligned with this stance.

Taurus cruise missiles not destined for Ukraine

The Chancellor reiterated previous concerns that the Ukrainian forces would require German assistance to operate the Taurus missiles, which could also potentially result in strikes on Russian soil. For Scholz, involving German soldiers in the conflict is a line he is not willing to cross, citing the risk of Germany becoming embroiled in the war.

"This is a red line I do not want to cross as Chancellor. Prudence should not be mistaken for weakness," he remarked.

The Taurus missile, with its length of 16.4 ft and weight of up to 3086 lbs, is equipped with a high destruction-capacity MEPHISTO (Multi-Effect Penetrator, Highly Sophisticated and Target Optimised) warhead that weighs around 1102 lbs. It has versatile detonation capabilities, allowing for both immediate and delayed explosions tailored to the target needs, effectively neutralizing underground facilities, including bunkers. Notably, its stealth technology and range exceeding 310 miles make it a formidable weapon.

Alexander Müller, a member of the German Bundestag's defence committee, conveyed that the committee is aware of Chancellor Scholz's reasons for his stance, including concerns that are not for public disclosure.

"There are one or two things that cannot be discussed publicly, which rightfully cause him [Olaf Scholz] to hesitate," Müller stated.

Is Germany refraining from indirect support as well?

Earlier this month, the British government suggested a linked transaction where Germany would pass its missiles to the UK, which could then supply Ukraine with more of its cruise missiles. However, this proposal, too, faces opposition from some German politicians.

Currently, the Ukrainian military utilizes Storm Shadow cruise missiles from the UK and SCALP-EG missiles from France, both of which have been instrumental in targeting key locations, including the strategic strike on the Chonhar Bridge.

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